Plateau Minimal Surfaces

Credits: Year 4 MArch project in DS10; Tutors: Toby Burgess and Arthur Mamou-Mani

WikiBubbles was inspired by Alastair Parvin's WikiHouse project, promoting open source design and encouraging public participation through improvements, adaptations and continuous updating of the core design.

WikiBubbles is a concept based on Plateau's laws that describe ideal configurations for clusters of soap film bubbles and are a result of minimal surface geometries. A valuable consequence is that all angles between surfaces or members in such Plateau geometries are equal, and therefore they generate geometries with a high degree of structural stability.

A useful architectural interpretation is that all required joints are identical, no matter how complicated the cluster is, the only variable being the length of the members. Fabrication-wise, this implies a single type of connector piece and a flexible member that can be easily cut to length, i.e a high degree of standardization, reducing costs and simplifying the building process.

A parametric model was developed which generates a bubble cluster based on custom input variables (number of cells, dimension, etc) and returns the number of joints required as well as the length of the members and an identifier for the construction sequence.

November 2012

Growth sequence of a soap bubble cluster

Experiments with soap bubble clusters #1

Experiments with soap bubble clusters #2

Experiments with soap bubble clusters #4

Dimensional analysis of a cluster

False colour analysis of a cluster

Soap bubble interaction

Plateau's Laws

A cluster of 11 bubbles

Exploded axo of a 15 bubble cluster

Exploded axo of a 11 bubble cluster

Structural analysis informing member dimensions

Mesh relaxation algorithm applied to the films

A WikiBubble

Exploded axo of the connector

Exploded model of a WikiBubble

Laser cut MDF connector pieces

Stable assembly of 3 connectors + 3 members

A WikiBubble based on a cluster of 6 soap bubbles

A WikiBubble based on the edges of a cluster of 18 soap bubbles

Replicating the soap film surface using plaster spheres

A proposal for the Burning Man Festival

Proposal for an installation at the Burning Man Festival

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